CARSON, Calif — Entering the 2010 MLS season, Edson Buddle and the World Cup seemed about as likely as PETA endorsing fur coats.
Buddle, though, was named to the United States' 23-man World Cup roster on Wednesday, and while his inclusion is being hailed as a surprise, his Galaxy teammates aren’t exactly stunned.
“Edson deserves it,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “I don’t think it’s a surprise at this point. Coming into this year, I don’t know that was necessarily even on Edson’s radar, being on the World Cup team, but he earned it.”
Buddle played the first half of Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic and saw many of the same things he sees with the Galaxy: Czech defenders were playing him tight, trying to knock him off the ball and looking to play physically with him. He even had his lip bust open and required stitches, but he hung in there and did his job.
Though he didn’t score a goal, he showed enough in the match—and enough during the season—to earn a spot. Goals alone, though, did not get Buddle to South Africa.
“He’s scored a lot of goals, but beyond that he’s playing really well and doing a lot of the little things that make a difference in the game," Dunivant said. "That’s why [U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley] took him—if he’s just scoring goals, I don’t think he goes. But it’s all the other things he’s doing as well.”
Still, Buddle captivated attention by his goals. He scored the Galaxy’s first seven goals of the season and leads the league in goals with nine.
While few were thinking World Cup at first, eventually his goals made Galaxy teammates thought South Africa was a possibility.
“I think right around number six everyone really started to take notice,” Dunivant said. “He was scoring goals but the way he was scoring them – some with his head, some with his feet, some beating players, getting on the end of balls – he was scoring every which way you can. That was impressive.”
Buddle was one of two Galaxy players selected to the team. The other was not exactly a surprise: Landon Donovan earned his third consecutive World Cup berth. Dunivant was on the Galaxy in 2005 and 2006, prior to Donovan’s second trip to the World Cup finals, and while things did not go well for Donovan then, Dunivant said this year will be different.
“He’s been consistent through all these years and that’s why he’s in his third World Cup, and who knows how many more he’ll play in?” Dunivant said. “There’s been plenty made about his mental state and his preparation for this World Cup compared to last, and I think you’re going to see the results in a few weeks time.”